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Özil’s brilliant goal masked a shaky defensive display

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I sure hope Mauricio doesn’t read this.

Can the defense make Arsene smile this weekend? (can anything???)
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Before we get started, watch Özil’s goal again. Go on, you know you want to.

Okay, now that you’ve done that, it’s time to focus on the boring part - the rest of the game. A lot of things happened on Tuesday that make me very nervous heading into this weekend. If the boys play like they did in Bulgaria this Saturday, they’re going to lose. A Spurs side in the form they’ve been in, with Kane possibly returning, has the ability to exploit our back line far more than Ludogorets could, and that scares me.

Now it’s true that there were a few lineup changes. Carl Jenkinson and David “Ol’ Lead Feet” Ospina came in to the side after the win at Sunderland last weekend. But just bringing back the starters isn’t going to be enough to ensure a win this weekend. So what happened, and what needs to be done?

What the hell happened?

It’s quite possible Carl Jenkinson just needed time for his eyes to adjust to the sun that is the first team after escaping the cavern that is the bench (okay, that metaphor was a bit of a stretch but you get the idea). He wasn’t great, and I don’t see him in the lineup for this weekend.

Jenkinson wasn’t the only cause of defensive insecurities. Kieran Gibbs was under constant pressure, and let’s be honest, he got absolutely smoked in the 15th minute, leading to Keseru’s goal. The left-back, recipient of showers of praise after the big win last weekend, is suddenly under the microscope again. Christian Eriksen is going to send in cross after cross if Gibbs can’t shut him down.

In general, Arsenal’s set piece defending was questionable. I’m pretty sure there were two Ludo players closer to the ball than any Gunners on that first goal.

Finally, it goes without saying that Ospina could have had a better game. He seemed unsure on clearances and looked like a deer in headlights on the first goal. Petr Čech will be back in starting XI come Saturday.

Now what needs to be done this Saturday?

Gibbs and the rest of the back line need to be solid on defense. No diving in, no funny business. Kane has to be watched at all times. If he’s back like I’ve heard, he’ll be hungry. Finally, set pieces have to be defended better. Get that ball out of there. Communication between the goalkeeper and the defense is imperative.

A side note.

Please don’t misunderstand me here. A lot of great things happened on Tuesday. Özil left me speechless and Giroud can’t stop scoring. Alexis played well and Coquelin... well anyway, there were a lot of good things happening on the offense, and there’s certainly a possibility for some truly magical things to occur this weekend. However, there were a few glaring issues in Bulgaria and hopefully they don’t carry over to the NLD.

After all, we don’t want Arsenal to become like one of those college football teams that don’t even care about defense because they score so much, you know, the South Floridas, the Oklahomas. Or do we? Okay, I’ll stop with the metaphors for a while.